Leinster SFC: Dublin dominate Meath
Leinster SFC semi-final
DUBLIN 1-27 MEATH 1-14
By John Harrington at Croke Park
Dublin powered through to a 12th successive Leinster Football Final with an all too easy victory over Meath at Croke Park.
Dessie Farrell’s team completely bossed their opponents in all facets of the play. They were quicker, stronger, and more skilful and clinical than the out-classed Royals.
Dublin’s conversion rate was especially impressive. They amassed just three wides and the quality of their point-kicking was of the highest order.
Ciarán Kilkenny was especially potent, kicking five from play, but he was ably assisted in a sharp Dublin attack by Cormac Costello, Con O’Callaghan, Dean Rock and Lorcan O’Dell who hit a combined nine points from play.
Another obvious positive was the performance of Tom Lahiff in midfield who is growing into a very effective foil for Brian Fenton.
Team captain, James McCarthy, was another who can be very happy with his afternoon’s work. He looked very fresh, put in some big hits in defence, and also got forward for two fine points.
But as good as Dublin were, this win has to be put into perspective by the paucity of the Meath challenge. Andy McEntee’s team simply couldn’t live with the athleticism and skill of their opponents, and when Dublin raced into a 0-5 to no-score lead after 10 minutes the writing was already on the wall.
They were punching holes in the Meath defence with alarming ease, with Cormac Costello and Ciaran Kilkenny particularly clinical early on.
When points from Bryan Menton, Jordan Morris and Thomas O’Reilly reduced the deficit to three points by the 17th minute you wondered if the Royals were starting to find their feet, but the rug was quickly pulled from under them again.
Dublin kept racking up the points with metronomic regularity with Con O’Callaghan now really making his presence felt on the edge of the square.
And when the powerful Cuala man was then dragged down in the square for a penalty that Dean Rock converted confidently, Dublin were 1-15 to 0-5 ahead and the match was already effectively won.
Points from Lahiff and Brian Howard rounded off the first-half scoring and gave Dublin an unassailable 15 points lead going at the break.
In fairness to Meath, they kept plugging away and actually outscored Dublin in the second-half, but that was as much due to Dublin taking their foot off the pedal and emptying their bench as much as anything else.
Players like Bryan Menton, scorer of three point from play, and Donal Keoghan did their best to rally the troops while the subs that were brought on supplied some good energy too, but the feeling throughout the second-half remained that Dublin were winning this game at their ease.
Insult was added to injury for Meath with two late red-cards. First Jack Flynn was given his marching orders on 69 minutes for a high tackle on Jonny Cooper.
Then, shortly after he’d converted a penalty for a consolation goal for Meath, Jordan Morris also saw red after an off-the-ball incident with marker Lee Gannon.
That put the tin hat on a thoroughly miserable day for the Royals who probably won’t find it easy to bounce back form a loss like this and attack the All-Ireland Qualifiers with conviction.
Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-8 (1 pen, 5f, 1 45), Ciarán Kilkenny 0-5, Cormac Costello 0-3, James McCarthy, Con O’Callaghan, Tom Lahiff, Lorcan O’Dell all 0-2, Sean Bugler, Brian Howard, Paddy Small (m) all 0-1
Scorers for Meath: Jordan Morris 1-3 (1 pen, 2f), Bryan Menton 0-3, Jack O’Connor 0-3 (2f), Thomas O’Reilly, Joey Wallace, Donal Keoghan, Jack Flynn, Shane McEntee all 0-1.
DUBLIN: Evan Comerford; Eoin Murchan, Michael Fitzsimons, Lee Gannon; John Small, Brian Howard, James McCarthy; Tom Lahiff, Brian Fenton; Seán Bugler, Ciarán Kilkenny, Lorcan O’Dell; Cormac Costello, Con O’Callaghan, Dean Rock. Subs: Jonny Cooper for Eoin Murchan (50), Paddy Small for Con O’Callaghan, Niall Scully for Lorcan O’Dell (both 56), Shane Clayton for Brian Fenton (62), Brian O’Leary for Cormac Costello (67)
MEATH: Harry Hogan; Robin Clarke, Conor McGill, Eoin Harkin; James McEntee, Donal Keoghan, Ronan Ryan; Bryan Menton, Ronan Jones; Matthew Costello, Cillian O’Sullivan, Jack O’Connor; Jordan Morris, Thomas O’Reilly, Joey Wallace. Subs: Cathal Hickey for James McEntee, Shane Walsh for Thomas O’Reilly, Shane McEntee for Ronan Ryan (all ht), Jack Flynn for Ronan Jones (43), Bryan McMahon for Cillian O’Sullivan (59)
Ref: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)